Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Getting Through Hot Summer Days with Infused Waters

Sometimes we as individuals just do things that are 'naturally' good, infused waters are one of those super special/simple things.  We don't think about each and every mineral or vitamin and how it burns fat, decreases cholesterol, detoxifies, makes us youthful or gives us energy.  We just love that this beautiful beverage is simple to make, flavorful and thirst quenching.
Orange Mint, sliced fresh Ginger, Thyme and a black tea bag over ice
Mason Jars in the 24 ounce size are my favorite style glass to use.  They are the perfect size, a pint and a half, to get the full cold infused beverage experience.  Not too big, not too wimpy just large enough for a full flavored infusion.
Blueberry tea, Lavender, Sage, Thyme and organic sugar
Another great addition to your creation is a stainless steel drinking straw, the wide ones.  These are 8.5" long but, you can get them up to 12".  The trick is to get the wide style to then use in extra thick shakes and smoothies. You know you want one everyday of your life!
Peppermint and Red Rose Tea w/brown sugar, reminding me of my Grandmother
Yes, I do mix it up on the sweetener but, rarely use processed white, love brown sugar and occasionally will squirt a couple drops of Stevia in.
Blueberry, Bronze Fennel and Spearmint w/Agave
Celestial Seasoning teas are truly good quality teas, very flavorful and crazy easy to find in your local grocery store. Lemon, Blueberry and Peach are a good base for any additions you will be inclined to add along with a caffeinated tea such as Assam, Green or Ceylon.  I love Oolong and need to find a source.  
Organic Strawberries and Spring Water
These infused waters can be very light.  Sliced fruit or vegetables ie. a luscious strawberry, tart lemon, perfect peach, mellow watermelon, savory celery or refreshing cucumber make wonderful additions.
Here is a savory infusion including organic Celery, Pot Marjoram, shaved Ginger and Thyme w/no sweetener
Don't over think it.  Take a glass, 1/2  fill it with ice, pour spring water over top, poke some fruit/herbs/tea bags or a bit of everything  in your infusion adding sugar perhaps. You can make them ahead but, I drink while and during the steeping process adding more ice or water as needed.

What possible combos are intriguing to you?  Plum and Thyme, Sage and Apple or Peach and Rosemary sound like refreshing pairings.

filmstrip captures of PA Wilds Conservation Shop at -Kinzua Bridge State Park-

Friday, July 22, 2016

Off to the PA Wilds with Stephanie Distler Artisan Jewelry

The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania Juried Artisan, Stephanie Distler, creating fresh off the bench #PAWildsMade jewelry.

A close-up of a copper cuff  "Not all those who wander are LOST" and the PA Wilds branding

Sharing a recent post I wrote for The Pennsylvania Wilds are Calling blog of the jewelry line created for them by SDAJ

PA Wilds branded jewelry, made by hand, includes bracelets, riveted rings, pendants, charms, bottle openers and key rings. The items are created from pure copper, sterling silver, stainless steel and food grade aluminum that is hand cut by the artisan from metal sheeting. Some of the steps used in making her line of branded PA Wilds licensed products include first cutting out desired shapes and sizes, grinding and filing edges, hammer forging texture, choosing the metal stamps relevant to the piece (such as a word string or design), work hardening in a tumbler to add strength and then finally sealing in the finish with a museum quality wax product that will last for years.
Stephanie is a self taught jewelry artisan living in Elk County. Using nature for inspiration, she designs and creates artisan jewelry together with hand tools and larger shop equipment. Collecting metalsmithing tools, learning new techniques and then implementing them in her designs is a passion that is the touchstone of daily life: “I am a crazy tool fanatic whether in the studio or preparing dinner for my family a good tool is the key to enjoying the simplest of tasks. When you have a passion for what you do it spills out around you, it’s contagious joy.”

I definitely need to take some new studio portraits, lol

Stephanie Distler Artisan Jewelry  is available at Elk County Council on the Arts, Laughing Owl Press, The newly built PA Wilds Conservation Shop - at Kinzua Bridge State Park (opening beginning of September 2016) along with her working studio and from online shop,

creating 'me' in the Wilds branding

Prices range from $7.00 to $50.00.
“If you love the great outdoors, Stephanie’s PA Wilds collection will blow you away! I live in the suburbs, and my pieces from Stephanie are a way to keep the outdoors close at hand. Her work is awesome!”  -Debra 
“Thank you so much for the PA Wilds elk charm! It is a small piece of home now that I am away. Last year I moved away from the great Keystone state to Iowa and boy do I miss those deep dark woods of Elk County. I used to camp a lot in Benezette. Thanks again for this awesome item!”  -Wally
Just a simply beautiful ring! The rustic design fits so well with the bark like texture….and it does look like bark! This one will rarely leave my finger! -djarus

Locate  #PAWildsMade made by hand through The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania from juried artisans at

captures from Summer

Thursday, March 03, 2016

TBT- Looking back on the beginning of something

There is always a beginning and for my eldest daughter's love of fiber it was at the age of 7.  Larissa will be 29 this month, almost, that is crazy.  During this time of our lives I owned/operated a little herbary 1994 to 2000 and during that time also sat up at local herb shows where she wove potholders.  Her fingers were constantly weaving loops into beautiful color combos and patterns engaging her audience.  I will have to try and dig up those photos at some point soon!
Daughters Larissa, Thea and friend Nickie at a local Fall Festival in Cook Forest knitting and dry felting 2003 perhaps
Today a package landed on our doorstep full of handcrafted goods.  She has been felting flowers for sometime now gifting her Mom one of these lovelies for her birthday.  This posie can be pinned or clipped on sweaters, coats, hats or even shoes, love them.
felted pansy
You can purchase one for yourself along with many other beautifully made creations at EllipsisArts
Thank-you Larissa, xoxo
from 10th grade on  until she was off to film school

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Studios and Workspaces on the Brain

Along with my working studio finally underway here is the up and coming studio and retail space of a talented friend, Stacie Johnson-Leske owner of Your Fired Pottery.  A group of juried PA Wilds artists and artisans, myself included, are having a PA Wilds Pop-Up shop in her space March 11th & 12th.  It is a fabulously varied group with each one a different medium.  Among them you will find watercolor, photography, pottery, artisan jewelry, fiber, soap, paper and graphite.  
Held during the Ridgway Chainsaw Rendezvous, which draws people internationally, it will prove to be an amazing event all the way around.  
Clearfield, Elk, McKean and Potter are the 4 counties out of the 12.5 region setting up shop in this beautiful studio at the heart of Elk County.  * for more information on the membership.

list of participants
  Her talented and knowledgeable husband was there the day I stopped in to get a better idea of space for the pop-up.  Still loads of work to do for them in the future with lighting, cabinet making and installing the kilns but, the walnut floor will be installed along with the storefront windows.  The true opening of her pottery studio is scheduled a few months down the road but, is a great opportunity for artists as well as the public to mingle.gather.hobnob. after such a crazy Winter.

The front of Your Fired Pottery to be filled with artists and artisans very soon including Stacie who will be setting up her throwing wheel front and center somewhere along this bank of windows on Main Street. 

a strip of recent captures

Monday, February 29, 2016

Double Birthday Month

February 2005 was this blog's creation and also the year I took a big step as an artist with opening up an online shop, starting a photo crazy Flickr account and posted for the first time here.   At this point the work was mainly improvisational bead embroidery with some stringing to fill the booth with color and texture at art festivals. During this month I sat up at one of the early Chainsaw Rendezvous in Ridgway, Pennsylvania next to a very talented mosaic artist Brenda Nicklas.  Nicklas was at the threshold of her artisan business too.  We had an amazing time comparing notes during this local show,  making a trade and revealing our future hopes & dreams.  The next year we were juried into The Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trail to become part of the original members, it's origins started with us!

I have enjoyed this sweet Picassiette style box through the years placing a youngest daughter's tooth, my Grandmother's and my pocket watch lovingly inside.
One of Brenda Nicklas' smalls owner of Laughing Dog Mosaics
beaded work from past days 

*oh yes and I turned 50 this month, more on that later :) 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

News from the PA Wilds Artisan Trails- BRANDING

being a part of the branding process
Change is coming to the 'WILDS'. Yesterday's branding forum held at the Elk Country Visitor Center was such a success with member's faces from all over the region including artists, artisans, gallery owners, advisory committee members, etc. in attendance.
The discussions were in depth covering the how and why certain branding strategies will be implemented as we delve into the process through the upcoming months to be carried out over the next 3 years.
Brainstorming was a big part of the day while they wrapped their brains around the 'unique' nature of our membership.

This is SWELL's Greg and Staci's last day exploring and will be heading off to McKean County stopping in Laughing Owl Press, C.J. Spirits, Kinzua Viaduct,. The goal was to give them a well rounded experience including studios, galleries, restaurants, wineries, breweries, visitor's centers and small companies along the trail. The 12.5 county region would have been daunting. 

Such an exciting adventure we have a head of us!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Cookies or you deserve a little something on a beautiful Spring evening

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Cookies 

by Me and Herb
cookie photo the next morning, made later during the night when lighting was all crazy

makes 3 dozen truly super terrific cookies


  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven 350ยบ 
  2. Line your cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 cup unsalted butter over medium heat, this takes around 20 minutes be patient for the browned butter makes the cookie.  When butter is melted, continue to cook, stirring butter constantly until it becomes a light caramel color.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. In bowl of stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until combined, then add eggs, one at at time, extra yolk and vanilla.  Continue mixing until light in color, making for a thicker batter. 
  5. Add in baking soda, salt and flour.  Mix on low until combined, then mix in crushed pretzels and nut mixture, then semi-sweet chocolate chips with your wooden spoon.
  6. Using medium cookie scoop, 2 ounce, drop dough on lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart, baking until just golden at the edges, about 8-10 minutes.  Centers might not seem done, but, remove the cookies and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheet before moving to your wire racks to finish cooling.
Tip:  to quickly crush nuts, place in a heavy plastic bag and smash with your rolling pin :)

wonderful Grand Re-opening at Firestone Forge April 18th, 2015 that my family and I attended


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